Monday, June 27, 2011
I no longer *feel* like a foreigner in Thailand.
Oh, I am one – but I don’t *feel* like one.
I do not speak the language – but in the past 19 days I have learned all I need “to survive.”
I noticed it when I was riding up the escalator from the metro (subway) system. I was looking into the faces of the persons coming down – mostly Thai – though this is a diverse city – with many persons from many places here. A few days ago when they looked at me, I “felt” like an American – like a tourist here. And while I still am an American – and still have tons and tons that I could “tour” to see – I no longer feel like this is a “foreign” land because today when they were looking at me, I "felt" like I "belong" here too - in some way. I did not feel like an outsider.
I think it’s because I know how to get around in all ways. I’ve been on busses, in taxis, ridden tuc-tucs, boats and I know how to use the skytrain (overground rail) and metro. I have been to and from the downtown – by transport and on foot. I have been up and down the river and know the timetables. I have been to several (I think all) of the city’s main parks. I know several places to exercise (when I’m not walking for miles on end) and have taken advantage of enjoying “watching” people during the day or in the evening when I have been “out and about.”
I have been to and from the airport and the main train station, more than one time – even taking an out of city excursion for a weekend alone.
I know where the “Superstores” are – several of them – and several meat/fruit/vegetable markets. I’ve seen – I think – everything that is for sale by vendors on multiple city streets.
I have been by and around the malls – but not in them except for a few brief floors – it’s just not my thing. I have eaten at several restaurants and of course driven/walked by hundreds more! And, I know more than one place to get a good-ol’-fashioned 7-11 slurpee – or an A&W Root Beer on these hot and humid summer days! I have eaten at least three "dishes" or individual items of local food each and everyday - making that perhaps a hundred new fruits, pastries, cakes, noodles, drinks or other items that I've now sampled and nearly all enjoyed.
In short, I know how to “get around” even if I don’t speak the language and – I don’t feel like a foreigner here anymore. I certainly still am foreign – and it would take years to learn the culture in invested ways.
But it sure feels nice to do what I’ve done and know what I know already.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
It needs to be noted - that I am copying and posting here a 2 minute exchange I had on Facebook.I am intentionally not editing it.But I think it says a lot in its brevity about how I think about about belief. A student from over a decade ago asked me was in a conversation recently with an atheist and out of that, she asked me
"I was wondering about your answer to that question: why do you believe there is a God?"
I quickly responded:
On the belief issue - this is tricky to answer in this context but I certainly believe because I was "raised" to believe and it is hard to get away from nurture. So, I have to be honest about that.In other days (periods of my life) I have chosen to believe because of two things (1) the human body (as one example of a living thing) is just too too too too too too too complex and amazing to believe in non-theistic evolution - in my opinion. Even if you posit billions of years - the fact that from a zygote our cells divide and know to be a fingernail, over an artery, and not a heart muscle, or an inner working portion of the cones or rods in my eyes. How can that happen but from some divine plan/purpose? The complexity is astounding. And, (2) multiply (1) times every living thing and the size and scope of the universe in all its phenomenal size, scope. If the earth were a mere couple of miles (a few thousand feet) closer to the Sun - which is millions of miles (millions and millions of feet away) - we could not have life as we know it. So - the mystery and scope and size and complexity of many created things - including a complexly old universe - these things have been a key factor in my belief in the Divine. Finally, ultimately, I choose to believe that the way in which the total tradition of Judaism - and the lifestyle(!) and life and death of Jesus - makes sense of how the Divine (God) would want us to learn to live in the world to make it on earth as it is in heaven.So -
Complexity - Mystery
Love-PeaceThat about sums it up.I may have to archive this - it's really a simple way for me to express why I believe that Jesus best reflects God's hopes and intentions for a world that is complex and mysterious - but beautifully nurtured.Blessings dear friend.You are loved.~ marty
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I am not sure how often I will post this Summer - 2011 - about events going on in my life in Bangkok.In four days already - there would be pages of "journal" or "reflection" type entries to record - and what I have had time to record I am sharing in more personal, family ways through other venues to my immediate family. But, I did want to note that I have arrived safely in Thailand - and am excited about a comprehensive curriculum and "in-the-field" program of study in Cambodia, and on the Thai border with Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos in the next several weeks. The pictures should be obvious from what I stand in front of - One clearly has me at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University and the other was a Welcome Ceremony at the The Rotary Centre in Thailand with my area host counselor, PP.Sanit Sakseree. An additional picture of the 17 total recipients of this fellowship-scholarship opportunity with our Thai Rotary Host Counselors. It's late Sunday night for me, June 12th, (exactly 12 time zones ahead of my family in Oklahoma) - and I'm up reading a text entitled: Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts - in preparation for course discussion this week. My accommodations are very much "Graduate School Style Dormitory" on the campus of CU - - but comfortable, clean, and graciously hosted by many Thai persons - kitchen style sink, plenty of hot water in a personal bathroom, air-conditioned (very humid here!) with good internet. All is well.I am delighted to be the recipient of this fellowship through Rotary International and am anxious to see the doors that will be opened for me for extended work in peacemaking and fellowship and extending "the good for the all" through the Eupan Global Initiative into the future.